The Long Climb to # 1

Part 6

Super Bowl Sunday, January 26th. Our Club members give the Super Bowl a new meaning. From noon to 5:00 P.M. our bowling team is hard at work honing their skills at Seven Hills Lanes. Bowling (3 games) and pizza for $6.00! One of the benefits of being a Club member.

By now Auto-Rama has become an annual tradition. This year WMJI 105.7 FM is incorporated into our display. The highlight of the show which ran from January 31st to February 2nd was the Pit Stop competition. Under the expert supervision of coach Gary Oberc, Dave “Nimble Fingers” Zuber assembled nuts and bolts then completed the required checking and cleaning. Bill “Pit Stop” Ellis changed (4) tires as Joe “Red Ribbon” Rhea changes spark plugs and wires on a separate engine.

When the smoke cleared, Team Rock ‘N Roll had set a record and beat the boys from the Medina High School Automotive Technical Career Center. The cash winnings of $300.00 as well as another $225.00 from Steve Estrin was donated the Kalie Kaminski fund raiser. 4 month old Kalie had a heart transplant and the family needed help with medical expenses.

Once again we receive the “Outstanding Club Award” and the “Best Club Display Award”. Leslie Sekerak, our Newsletter Editor since July 1991, has made some major improvements in the quality of our monthly publication. The newsletter now has a neat, clean and professional look. In a search for new ideas a suggestion box is introduced in February of 1992 and remained in use for a number of years.

The Club held it’s 2nd annual Model Car Contest during our March Club meeting. The model cars were displayed and judged according to the age of the builders. Six inches of snow on Sunday, March 22nd didn’t stop 32 Club members from participating in the third and final bowling party of the season.

Club members have been gathering at the Solon Commons Food Court on a regular basis throughout the winter months. Each Tuesday evening we would rearrange the tables to accommodate our ever growing party.

Frank “Early Bird” LaManna and Rick “Fair Weather” Markko show up on March 31st, their machines all aglow. Our new cruise season is just around the corner. TheClub was invited to participate in Automania ’92 in Niles, Ohio on April 10th to 12th. The highlights of that show were the calendar girls and our Club cars, in that order. There were eight Club cars displayed and you can rest assured that the owners and the support team had a great time. The proof can be found in the pages of the 1991-1992 Club photo album.

Easter would fall on our normal April meeting date this year. We rescheduled the meeting to May 3rd at the Solon Commons Food Court. Earlier that day the Club had once again participated in the annual Fleet Avenue Parade.

Our Club held one more Memorial Day car show at the Aurora Rd School grounds behind Pals Drive In on May 6th. The 6th annual car show would be our final Club event at the Pals Drive In site.

Mayfield Village held it’s 3rd annual Cruise Night on June 13th this year. More cars than ever cruise the loop on Wilson Mills from Beta Drive to SOM Center Rd. All the parking lots are filled by late afternoon for a cruise that begins at 6:00 P.M. We are now just participants in a show that just three years earlier we had a major roll in starting. Dave Zuber managed to photograph Jack Leventry’s ’41 Olds putting on a flame show in from of the Mayfield Village Fire Department. A real Kodak moment!

June 13th would be another dual event day with the Cleveland Growth Association inviting our Club to participate in the Square to Square Affair. With 19 Club cars we set up a display from Playhouse Square to Public Square.

Friday evening, June 26th, the Club has the honor of displaying 11 cars at Chester Commons in downtown Cleveland. We are between the WMJI Julebox and the band “Wild Horses”. This event is called “The Party In The Park”.

The Club has become regular participants in the Bedford/Bedford Hts 4th of July parade. As a group we have 11 cars plus Steve Killeen who drives Mayor Jimmy Dimora in his GTO convertible. At the July 10th Bedford Hts Home Days we are presented with a plaque in appreciation of our Club’s car display. We are also presented with a check for $100.00 for 1st place honors in the 4th of July parade.

On July 11th a crew of the Clubs best qualified members judged 200 cars in Streetsboro. This was a very popular show in it’s time and it was an honor to be part of it. We combined our July Club meeting with a Test N Tune at Norwalk Raceway Park. The July 19th event was a huge success!! The employees of Norwalk were quite impressed with our turnout.

The city of Highland Hts has invited us to participate in their Home Days parade on July 26th. This was to be our first event with this city. Unfortunately it would be delayed one year by rain. Saturday August 1st we have a Club picnic at Elmwood Community Park in Independence. On the same day George Bartos had the honor of driving the Grand Marshals (Twins of course) of the Twins Day Festival Parade in his ’76 Corvette. They chose the Corvette over a new Chrysler LeBaron convertible provided by Chrysler. The Twinsburg, Ohio annual festival was featured on National News that weekend and George was up front.

The Bedford Street fair on August 21st was a fun event, Broadway Ave was closed to traffic. Our Club displayed 11 cars at the square. There was plenty of great food served, folks boppin’ to the beat of several bands and great weather. On Sunday, September 6th a Muscular Dystrophy Association benefit was held at the Solon Community Park. The Club participated with a car display and our best ball players. We teamed up with Tommy Edwards records and went on to beat WMJI. The Club made a $100.00 donation to MDA.

Our weekly cruise in Solon is drawing more than 180 cars on Tuesday evenings. This is three times the number that we drew at Pals. Once again, as what happened at Pals we find ourselves with more cars than parking spaces. At times cars are parked in the grass along the street. DJ Bill King supplies a sound system and pushes the 50/50 raffle. Jeff and Barb Takas handle the front table. The Club has been raising money for Ronald McDonald House.

On September 20th the Club once again heads to Downtown Cleveland for another event. Sixteen of our cars are displayed at the Fun In The Flats Show. Not a bad showing when you consider that most of us were out partying till past midnight at Blazin’ Bills for our annual hay ride and ribs. Bill King, our regular cruise DJ taught square dancing and the Electric Slide. Ilsa and I had been going to Sharon, PA for a number of years and found some places of interest along the way. I shared this information with then Club President Mario Bennici. On Sunday, November 15th we leave the Solon Commons parking lot aboard two fully loaded Lakefront Trailways busses. The busses are soon slipping and sliding as we head East. At one point we are forced to turn the busses around in a farm yard as the snow has closed the road ahead. Being fearless car people and thrill seekers we find an open road and motor on. The snow cleared as we arrived in Sharon. PA.

In Sharon we visited Daffin’s Chocolate Factory and Kranyak’s famous Christmas shops. We had a room called “Thunder Alley” reserved for us at Quaker Steak and Lube Restaurant. This is the original restaurant that once was a gas station. If you look up, real race cars are hanging from the ceiling and walls. A late 1930’s Chevy is on a raised lift in front of the rest rooms. Last, but not least the food was pretty good too.

Our bowling team starts the new season on November 22nd at Seven Hills Lanes. I never did figure out if these people went there to bowl or eat pizza.

The annual December Holiday bash was held on December 20th at the Bedford Hts Community Center. This year we begin to collect canned and non-perishable food items for the Cleveland Inter Church Council for distribution to the needy for holiday meals. This day also marks the beginning of our Sunshine Fund. We donate loose change to help cover the cost of cards and flowers to acknowledge the tragedies and milestones in the lives of our members.


Richard Petty Refuses to Sign

Part 7

Our first ever food drive, which we collected at our December Christmas party was a great success. The bounty was taken to Avon Baptist Church where it was distributed to the needy.

In the past, those mysterious Board meetings that our Club officials attended were scheduled on dates that were mutually convenient. Starting in 1993 it became standard practice to hold the meetings on the Monday evening following a regular Club meeting. This Board meeting time is used to discuss ideas for future events, address members concerns and to handle the business aspects of our organization. The meetings were open only to Board members and committee Chair people.

From the very beginning of our Club we have tried to somehow make a connection with the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. As a Club we donated to their fundraisers. It was Chuck Vella’s dream to have his Club there on opening day. I’m sure he did what he could in the early days of planning. I spent my three years as Club president sending letters on a regular basis to the R-N-R Hall of Fame officials only to learn that no one was there long enough to receive more than one letter. This had become very frustrating. I was always introducing the Club, but never making a true connection.

Things were about to change. Our then newsletter editor Leslie Sekerak accompanied by her husband Chuck attended a year end party. Leslie struck up a conversation with a lady who had left a teaching position to become the research coordinator for the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. This was an incredible coincidence.

Sensing a chance to make some connection here, Leslie launched into a conversation that included an explanation of who we are and what we do. Leslie also mentioned our interest in being part of the opening festivities at the museum. The result was acquiring the Research Directors business card and instructions on how to contact the top man himself, Michael Benz.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Leslie sent an introductory cover letter and a copy of “News and Views” (Our Club newsletter) to Mr. Benz so he could get a better picture of who we are. She states in the letter that the Club would be honored to be a part of the opening ceremonies. After six years of wasted efforts Leslie finally had us headed in the proper direction.

Auto-Rama, February 5th to the 7th 1993 was one for the record books. Seventeen cars, two pick up trucks and one t-bucket were displayed around our Club gazebo display. Once again we win the “Outstanding Club” plaque and the coveted “ISCA Best Club Display” plaque.

This years “Pit Stop” contest had a ladies division. Our ladies team finished second, winning $200.00. In the men’s competition our team won first place awards and the $300.00 top prize. In the “Wacky Gas Grill” contest our homemade dragster, the “Roaster Coaster” won the second place trophy. In 1993 the Board introduced an idea to spice up meeting nights. Refreshments were served to the surprised Club members and munchies and sweets have since become a common part of our monthly meetings.

Some major events take place in March. First, our newsletter editor is taken ill and no newsletter goes out. The stay at home members don’t learn that Club president Mario Bennici has stepped down until the April newsletter arrives. Vice President Bill Ellis steps up to fill the vacancy. A special election is held in April to fill the vacancy of Vice President. Rick Markko is voted in. On a positive note, the newsletter has taken on a new look. Starting with the April edition the pages are now 8 1/2 x 11″. The old newsletters were a thin Readers Digest size book.

The Solon Commons has now become a second home to our Club members. We meet there every Tuesday evening throughout the year. Members show up on March 30th with cars all polished up for the new cruise season. The first official cruise is scheduled for April 27th. Bill King is the DJ for 1993.

Our Club is featured in the May 10th edition of the Plain Dealer in a series of articles dealing with various Cleveland area car clubs. In one section our upcoming events and meeting information was listed. Under fundraising events and charities we are given five paragraphs. Our Club is earning a positive reputation, not only for our first rate cars, but because of our first rate attitude, Too.

By June 1993 some Club members are beginning to feel that we are going to be overtaken by another car club for our number one spot at the top. It seems that the American Cruisers are gaining in strength and numbers. The competition only pushes us to be more creative, more enthusiastic and more involved.

Back for a second year in a row our Club once again participates in Cleveland’s Square to Square. Saturday June 5th the weather is cold and dismal. Our cars are displayed in front of Woolworths on Euclid Ave. The only highlight of the day is the marching bands. Things improved immensely on Sunday June 6th. Warm and sunny. No need to visit Tower City to thaw out. There was food and games, the band Starship performed and the telethon to benefit Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital was going strong. Our Club pledges $50.00 and a challenge to other clubs to meet or beat our donation. Mini grand prix racers are zipping around hay bales on Public Square. Corporate teams sponsor, drive and service these racers to raise funds for crippled children.

A younger, and more aerodynamic (streamlined) Rich Krawczyk came home with a funny story Sunday night. He had been wearing a dark colored wide brimmed cowboy hat and dark sunglasses. Standing among the celebrities and race cars he certainly looked like a person of interest. Out of the crowd comes a well dressed man and his lady companion. The exact words have long been forgotten and this is as close as Rich and I can agree on the exact dialogue. “Richard, what a surprise and honor it is to see you here!” Rich looks up puzzled and quickly places his hand on his wallet. The stranger continues to talk to Rich as if he is a long lost friend. Rich wonders who this man could be and how does he know my name? After some more small talk the man asks Rich for his autograph. “Why do you want my autograph?” Rich asks. “Mr. Petty, you can’t fool me, I would know you anywhere” answered the stranger.

This leads to a no I’m not, yes you are debate that goes on for several minutes with the stranger becoming angrier by the minute. The man finally storms off telling everyone within sight that Richard Petty will not sign an autograph today. Thirty four Club members participate in the Cleveland event with another several dozen members showing up at the Hot Rod Nationals at Canfield that same weekend.

Bill Tompot and Rick Markko have established a scholarship fund to honor and recognize our young hard working students. Student are asked to submit their applications by July 30th.

Saturday night, June 12th Mayfield Village holds it’s 4th annual Cruise Night. As a club we are no longer taking part in their event. Members are still attend the event as individuals. July 3rd our Club is the featured attraction at the Bedford Hts Home Days with 27 cars. The following day we take part in the annual 4th of July parade.

The Club is now in the early stages of planning a new Social Events Committee. It will be responsible for arranging the Clubs social calendar.

At our July meeting the members are asked to vote on a member participation issue that would require each member to participate in a minimum of three (3) events per year or risk expulsion from the Club.

The Garfield Hts. Home Days was a fun and profitable event in July. The twenty cars the Club displayed enriched our treasury by $200.00.

Sunday, July 25th we make our first appearance in the Highland Hts Home Days parade. The Club picnic was held on Sunday, August 8th at the new Brecksville Rec Center on Rt 21. Those members that were there will surely remember the Super Soaker squirt guns. I would like to take one sentence from the August 1993 issue of our “News and Views” as written by then President Bill Ellis in his Drvers Seat column. “Please note that nominations are NOT closed until voting begins at the Sunday meeting”. I only mention this because thirteen years later a last minute nomination changed the outcome of our election.

The August elections usher in a new board. Rick Markko is elected President, Jerry Magyar Vice President, Ron Fox Treasurer and Laura Cherry Secretary. Also at this time our newsletter editor Leslie Sekerak steps down and her position is filled by Ralph Waugh.

Our 7th Annual Car show was held on Sunday, August 22nd at the Solon Commons in the front parking lot. We had 193 registered cars. Special attractions that day included MADD, DARE and Ron Heitman’s funeral coach. The WMJI 105.7 Jukebox was present and Bill King our DJ filled in. The Club raised enough money to make a $200.00 donation to MDA. On August 29th Dave Shostek and I ( Joe Artale ) escorted the Bedford Hts Ten Kilometer Race through the city streets with our cars.

The Clubs new Secretary, Lori Cherry made a big impression at our September 12th Test and Tune held at Norwalk. I was at the far end of the track passing out the timing slips when the sound of some serious horsepower filled the air. Out pops a slip with a 10.70 time! I believe the speed was 127 MPH! As the car approached the E.T. shack I was surprised to see that it was a Valiant. I was shocked when the driver removed her helmet. It was Lori driving her fathers race car. Seventy five Club members attended our September 18th hayride at Blazin’ Bills. Frank LaManna was our DJ for the night. Larry Schrader handles the square dancing duties. This year we offered two hayride choices. Hayed and unhayed. Both rides are identical at the start. The unhayed ride would return in the same condition as when it left, passengers neat and clean, hay still in place. When the hayed wagon would return the passengers would be picking hay out of their socks, hair, pockets, underwear and misc. body cavities. It was also a good idea to carry a flashlight. You never could tell when someone would be hiding in the dark ready to set off a roadside hay explosion.

After much debate the Club has finally voted to drop the minimum event participation issue. In it’s place the Club decided to place new members in a six month probationary period. Up until 1993 new members were voted into the Club. The problem was that some people were never seen again after they became members. The six months of probation required new members to attend all meetings and take part in Club events. It would be nice if showing up would become habit forming.

The Club now has a “Complaint Department”. If a Club member is unhappy about something and are uncomfortable about bringing up the subject Tim Dragony will speak for you. Just send him a note, it need not be signed and Tim will handle your problem.

“News Flash” Gary Oberc was so proud to have the only rod at the Commons on Tuesday. September 28th. Cold, rain, lightning and sleet!! What a trip for a ’53 Merc with no heater. Saturday, November 27th Frank and Cookie LaManna host a Niagara Falls Festival of Lights bus tour. The first stop was the Clifton Hill Mall across the Canadian border. A fine meal with a view of the Falls was enjoyed at the Minolta Tower. This was followed by the Lighting of the Falls Ceremony at dusk followed by a guided tour of Niagara Park and the Christmas lights. Last but not least, all of our bus trips come with on board entertainment such as movies, comedians and Doctor Mary Lou.

December ends with the same traditions. Getting ready for Auto-Rama, Club Christmas party and collecting canned goods for the needy.


We’ve Lost Our #1

Part 8

On January 10th a dinner/meeting was held at Denny’s in the Garfield Mall. Auto-Rama 1994 is just around the corner and we are about to complete our plans for our 8th show in a row.

Our theme for the February 4th to 6th show was “Built in America”. The club went all out this year with a new display and carpet for the entire floor area. Fourteen Club members displayed their cars as a group and three more members were in competition outside of our display.

We went home with the 1st place award for “Outstanding Club”, 2nd place and $200 for the ISCA Club Display, 1st place and $300 in the Men’s Pit Stop Contest and 3rd place and $100 for the Co-Ed Pit Stop Contest.

Of the seventeen Club cars on display we received eight 1st place awards, three 2nd place awards, four 3rd place awards and two 4th place awards. Our Automotive Events Chairman Bill Tompot went home Sunday night a very proud man.

How would you like to own your very own Rock’N-Roll Capital Street Machines watch? This stunning timepiece can be yours for only $25.00. See Dave Zuber at the February 20th, 1994 Club meeting.

Contrary to common sense, our early Club rosters were not in alphabetical order. The members were listed in the order of their joining the Club. Rightfully so, there was a very definite pecking order as to founders and late comers.

Charles V. Vella, our founder, would be #1 on that list. In the sequential order of Club Presidents Chuck Vella would be #1. To us , he was always #1 in many small but important things he had done to build the foundation that this Club was built upon.

On February 23rd, 1994 the phone rang. A heart broken Joyce Vella was calling to inform us that after three operations over a four year period our “Number One” had lost his battle with cancer. Joyce had two requests. One was to notify the Club members of chucks passing and the second, to have a few Club members present at the funeral wearing Club colors. The second request resulted in the forming of our Color Guard, which stood by at the funeral home. We accompanied the casket to the church and the cemetery. A small tribute to a man that had served us admirably. The Color Guard would be called into service again in the future.

In March 1994 the Club renamed the scholarship fund to honor Chuck. It was now to be known as the “Chuck Vella Memorial Scholarship”. You can see the details in the Club Constitution under Article X, Sections one, two and three. Details for the Color Guard are under Standard Operating Procedures.

Our first cruise of the season is scheduled for April 19th at the Solon Commons, Weather permitting. As it turned out the weather was in our favor and the cruisers enjoyed the tunes by DJ Steve and the lovely Nancy Szabo of Mainline Express. Having the huge food court with it’s multitude of fast food vendors was a major asset for our Club. Other advantages included two large, clean restrooms and a shaded outdoor seating area with tables and chairs. The Club now has it’s own “Hotline” Dial 292-0705. Press #1 for Cruise information, #2 for shows, #3 for Events, #4 for personal info and #5 for Grub Runs??? The Club also has it’s own Post Office Box at this time. The Rock’N’Roll Capital Street Machines, PO Box 39332 Solon, Ohio 44139. The PO Box is still in use today, but the hotline is long gone.

You would be hard pressed to spend long ours on Cleveland’s Downtown streets and not come home with a story. A case in point would be the Square to Square event on Saturday June 4th and Sunday June 5th. The hours were very long. Saturday was a twelve hour day from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm with Sunday going from noon to 7:00pm.This was a very high profile event to raise money for charities and help revive the Downtown area.

With Jazz bands on Saturday, Sha-Na-Na on Sunday, mini race cars on the square, street performers and a parade. In the middle of all this were our Club cars lining the streets of Downtown Cleveland. A constant procession of people approach and ask endless questions. Some were asked so often that a standard answer was given that was as intelligent as the question. Some examples include, How fast will it go? Answered with another question, “On the ground or in the air?” Rich Krawczyk had some kids believing that wings came out of his car at 175 mph. Did you drive these cars here? “No, we have them airlifted everywhere.” How much is that guys Chevy worth? “To me nothing, to him a million.” Some questions just left you shaking your head. Can I borrow that car? Are all these cars yours? How do you get so lucky to drive these cars? The monotony is broken by a bizarre looking woman running straight to Steve Estrins 1956 Cadillac. She plants a passionate kiss on the enormous hood and quickly disappeared into the crowd. Fast forward to 11:00 pm, time to go home, the big white Cadillac refuses to start. Could this have been the kiss of death?

Saturday night June 4th the Club displayed cars at Blossom Music Center as part of a WMJI event. As if all this wasn’t enough for one weekend, the Hot Rod Supernationals were at the Canfield Fairgrounds. There were 2,736 cars and trucks registered for the Friday through Sunday event.

If you could only attend one car event in your life Canfield 1994 was the place to be. The show at the Fairgrounds was beyond words. Head East seven miles from Boardman and witness a cruise so large that it took two hours to drive the three mile cruise area. The Police estimated 40,000 spectators lined the streets to watch the cruise.

CANFIELD 1994 WAS THE GEAR HEADS WOODSTOCK! Every parking lot had a mini car show. One lot was full of motorcycles with some of the crotch rocket boys putting on a burnout doughnut show. Burn outs were taking place everywhere the Police were not and a tow truck was doing wheelies. Back at the motels burn out contests were going strong into the wee hours. In the following years this all came to an end with a very strong Police presence.

The Clubs first Test-N-Tune of 1994 was held on Sunday June 26th at Thompson Drag Strip.

Back in Bedford Hts there is the 4th of July parade that the Club participates in each year. This is followed by the Friday night, July 8th Home Days Display.

The City of Bedford has planned a street festival for Friday night July 22nd and asked the Club to be one of the attractions on Broadway. Those that participated will remember some very good food and music.

Our Social Events Chairwoman Jo Ann Magyar Obreza has come up with a fun event for Club members. On Sunday, July 10th we set sail aboard the Goodtime III for a river and lake cruise. These boat cruises give the passengers a view of Cleveland that does not exist from land. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the view. One week later Jo Ann has a Club picnic planned at the Brecksville Recreation Center. This would replace our monthly meeting.

Once again our Club is one of the attractions at the Garfield Hts Home Days. Congressman Eric Fingerhut is a passenger in Club member Carl (Wolf Man) Martino’s T-Bucket. As the parade was nearing the end Congressman Fingerhut decided to jump out of the T-Bucket (which was still moving) to shake hands with the voters. As you know, T-Buckets have very large rear tires and no fenders. The Congressman fell to the ground and the right rear tire drove over his foot. The good news is no harm came to the tire.

The Club is invited to display it’s cars at the Bedford Community Street Fair on July 22nd. Unfortunately, two hours into the event it rains. Gary (Chico) Oberc blames the rain on a female Club member. This female member gets even with Chico on Sunday, July 24th at our Norwalk Drag Day by pinning him in the Porta-Potty with her car.

The Clubs 8th Annual car Show was held at the Solon Commons on August 7th. We had 119 Cars registered for the show and 35 Club cars on display. Steve Estrin Displayed his “Druid Princess” which was built by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. If you don’t remember the ’60’s you won’t have any idea what that means.

Mainline Express was the morning DJ with Dennis Chandler and the Stratophonics playing live music for the afternoon. The WMJI jukebox was once again on display providing a great backdrop for where the door prizes and awards would be presented. After the car show the Clubs softball players are off to play the Tommy Edwards Records All Star team. The All Stars had just beaten Majic 105’s team and would go on to beat us as well 7 to 6. This was a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy.

On July 30th, Chairperson Sherri Hamm showed the community of Highland Hts what an enthusiastic and proud Club we are. We display 10 cars in the parade down Wilson Mills Road. The adults loved the cars, the children loved the candy treats.

The Tuesday Cruise at Solon Commons takes on a new look in August with the WMJI on air personalities Ravenna Micelli and Tony Rizzo share DJ duties on alternating weeks. We are now in show biz, so to speak. On Saturday September 25th we bring 20 cars to Blossom for their Community Days Festival and get to enjoy a free concert while the concert fans get to enjoy our car display.

Our drag racing season ends in September at Thompson Drag Strip. For some reason our turn out at Thompson was never as strong as it was at Norwalk or Dragway 42. At that time the roads there were very rough and the strip needed some TLC. The roads have now been paved and the track fixed up, yet Club President Dennis Maczko still gets light turn outs for the Test-N-Tunes.

The show “Grease” opened on Playhouse Square on October 10th. They closed down Euclid Avenue and roped off a large area in front of the Playhouse for, you guessed it, our Club car display! All cars used were all 1970 and earlier models.

On Saturday, October 29th, after participating in the Revco grand opening in Rocky River we head to the Brown Derby Road House in Independence for our Halloween Dinner Bash. Cost was only $10.00 each with a number of members coming in costume. One Club member came dressed as a female causing some shock and confusion in the men’s room. Jeff and Barb Takacs have entered into discussion with Ronald McDonald House about them becoming our primary charity. Until now Jeff and Barb have been manning the Cruise registration table at the Commons and collected donations in a container placed on the table. The total amount collected was small in comparison to the years that would follow.

The first reorganization meeting is held by the Inter-Club Council. This is a group that plans to keep area car clubs informed about club events and pending auto oriented legislation. The first meeting which was held at the Crawford Auto Museum is to get us acquainted. The ICC plans regular meetings starting in January 1995. We are a part of this new group.

At our November meeting a motion was passed to set a standard rate for appearances at various events for groups or organizations that request a display of cars. The rate was set at $25.00 per car, with a five car four hour minimum and $5.00 per car each additional hour. Back by popular demand is another bus trip to Sharon, PA. On November 27th at 9:00am a full bus leaves the Solon Commons. The first stop is the Christmas display and shopping at Kraynaks then on to Daffins Chocolate Factory for sweets and their chocolate wonderland display. . From there we move on to Quaker Steak and Lube for dinner. Before heading for home there is a shopping spree downtown at the clothing and shoe stores.

The art work for the first Solon Commons Cruise Nite T-shirts was approved at the December meeting. It features the front of Food Court with five Club cars on the front. A list of participating Solon Commons merchants are on the back. Shirts sell at $10 for club members and $12 for non-members.

We end the year with the annual Christmas party and a food collection for the Inter Church Council. The Club adds $300.00 cash. Ron Fox uses the money to purchase additional food for the needy.


Cars Planes and the Hall of Fame

Part IX

It’s now 1995, the Club is approaching it’s ninth anniversary. We are also attending our ninth Auto-Rama. The Club has seventeen members cars displayed with fourteen of those part of the Club display and three as independent participants. All Club cars in attendance receive awards, with five receiving multiple awards! The club once again receives the “Best Club Display” and the “ISCA Awards”.

The year also starts off on a sad note with the loss of another Club member. One time Vice President Steve Kosarko passed away suddenly on January 20th. His dark blue 1964 Chevy Impala is still with us today. Club member Joanna Obreza bought the car and has lovingly maintained it.

On the positive side, Bedford Hts has remodeled the Community Center. A new rule is now in effect, “No Smoking” in the building. Our Club meetings no longer take place in a smelly gray haze.

Our Tuesday night cruises at the Solon Commons start on May 2nd. On May 19th through 21st we are the host Club for the Hot Rod Magazine Power Festival held at Norwalk Raceway Park.

On June 11th the Club is invited to participate in Solon’s Strawberry Festival Parade. This was our first parade in Solon. Many more have passed since.

Our 1995 racing season consisted of three Test and Tune Events. All three were held at Thompson Drag Raceway.

During the summer months the Club is invited to display our cars in three events that would be new and different. As members of the Inner Club Council (ICC) we take part in a fund raising event for the Crawford Auto and Aviation Museum. The show was held at the Cuyahoga County Airport where the museum brought out some of their finest cars to display. As a backdrop for the cars, the museum had a display of rare WWII aircraft.

On Labor Day we are parked in the middle of a complete air force. Our Club cars are on display at the Cleveland Air Show. This would literally be the “Hottest” show we have ever been in when bales of hay too close to a generator next to our display burst into flames! From there the fire spread to a tent. Luckily, no vehicles were damaged and no one was hurt.

Our third request for a car display starts off as a “drive by”. The City of Cleveland requested about fifty cars for a cruise-by at the All American City Celebration held at the not yet opened Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

With a very short notice the Club shows up on June 22nd with 43 cars. Unfortunately, we are separated from the crowds of people by construction trailers, cement barriers and fencing. If that wasn’t bad enough, what people we did see were facing the other way.

From there we displayed our cars in a huge empty parking lot. Cleveland forgot to inform the crowd of our display. The day wasn’t a complete waste. On the way home we stopped at a sleepy little cruise-in at Astorhurst. We bought dinners and ice cream, we danced and hula hooped. DJ Ray, Astorhurst and all present will remember the Thursday night the Rock and Roll Capitol Street Machines showed up.

The Clubs calendar of events was pretty full in 1995. With all the usual parades, the Bedford Hts Street Festival, the Clubs July 16th picnic in Brecksville and another Goodtime Cruise on the lake.

On September 10th the Club brings a “cookout” to the Ronald McDonald House. As we cook and eat we attract the attention of a curious person standing outside the fence. “What’s going on?”, “I’m standing here waiting for my bus and you’re making me hungry”. Being the good folks that we are we invite him in for a hot dog and hamburger. We had 38 Club cars on display that day.

The question of whether to continue with our annual car show has come up. Some people say we are putting on a free car show every Tuesday night. Car shows are on the way out. Car owners don’t want to pay to display and why would a spectator pay to see a car on Sunday that is displayed for free on Tuesday?

On August 13th the Club puts on our 9th annual car show. One hundred twenty seven cars register. The profits from the show are donated the Ronald McDonald House.

On occasion Club members would be paid for displaying their cars. The Rock-N-Roll Extravaganza held at Shaker Square on August 19th was the first paid event for our members. The Shaker Square Merchants Association paid each displayed vehicle $10.00 in addition to food certificates. About 35 members got to relax, eat and enjoy the music of Sonny Geraci.

Joanne Magyar-Obreza and Dave Zuber were kept busy with all the social and special events throughout the year. The highlight of the year was the Fall Social at the Brown Derby Roadhouse on October 28th. With a cash bar, DJ, door prizes. Good food and good people. All this for only ten bucks each!

Because the statute of limitations has run out, here is the story of the year. A last minute call came from the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame. They requested a 55 – 57 Chevy and some cars from the 50’s and 60’s. The drivers were to display their cars and hand out goody bags at the Hall of Fame opening on September 1st. Skip Petronzio, Nick Cacolici, Lou Morganti, Joanne Magyar-Obreza, Rich Krawczyk and Lori Cherry responded.

Rich Krawczyk tells his story of standing at the front door of the Hall of Fame with our Club cars parked out front. He looks up into the sky and tells Chuck Vella “You may not be here tonight but your dream has come true”. Our Club and our cars were on the front steps of the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame! The grand opening of a world famous landmark.

One member was not so happy about standing on the outside of that front door. It was blocking him from a $1000.00 per plate dinner. After passing out all his goody bags and the main rush subsides, Lou Morganti pulls a “Clark Kent”. Lou is dressed to the “Nines” under his Club colors. Lou took off his Club Colors, straightened up his dress clothes and walked in like he belonged. (Authors note: Lou Morganti dressed up, looks like he belongs.) He found an empty seat and fell into a conversation with Chuck Berry, Dion and Don Webster. I forgot to ask Lou about the food.

Technically, the year ends with the Christmas party. In reality the party would go on each Tuesday night. Depending on the weather conditions, crowds of 20 to 50 or more Club members would gather at the Solon Commons Food Court.


The RNRCSM’s Move to the Museum

Part X

1996 starts with the traditional Auto-Rama. The first time our Club participated in this event was February of 1987. It’s hard to believe that this is our 10th year in a row participating in Cleveland’s first auto show of the season.

One year later at the 1997 Auto-Rama the Club is presented with a commemorative 10th year participation patch to be worn on our Club jackets. The patch bears the year ’97 which, in all actuality 1997 was our 11th year of participation. Someone erred.

The Auto-Rama ran from February 2nd to the 4th and was unfortunately marred by the inexcusable behavior of a certain element that twice caused near riot conditions on the lower level. Arrests were made and some cars were towed away. Fortunately, no damage was reported to anyone’s car or display. None the less the weekend was still scarred.

Once again we are awarded the “Best Club Display” along with $200.00. Out of the twelve cars that were on display eleven received awards, with some of those receiving multiple awards.

A joke that started on a WMJI radio program took on a life of it’s own. The joke resulted in the first ever ISCA (International Show Car Association) presentation of the “Weedwacker Award” to the 12th car in our display.

On Monday February 5th the Crawford Auto and Aviation Museum opens a three month long display of muscle cars. The 15 cars that are displayed all belong to the Rock-N-Roll Capital Street Machines! The cars are displayed at the foot of the main stairway. Our four foot in diameter Club logo is the focal point as you enter. Yes, this is another proud moment in our history.

Here is a brief recap of our 1995 charitable efforts. A Bedford Hts single mother and her two children are given a $200.00 gift certificate. The Christmas food collection is turned over to the Bedford Hts Community cupboard. The Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland is our main charity. The collection box that is put out at the Tuesday night cruises all summer nets $231.10. The Club rounds out that amount to $500.00!

Take a moment here and reflect on the results of current charity events. If you have been with us long enough you can see the vast changes that have taken place in the last 10 years.

1996 is a year filled with events that were sure to please any car buff. Our Tuesday night cruises officially start on May 14th. The Hot Rod Magazine Power Festival at Norwalk Raceway Park keeps us busy from May 17th to the 19th and on May 28th the Club presents it’s first “Cruiser of the Year” award to a 1995 Solon Commons cruiser.

What good is your muscle car if you don’t exercise it on a regular basis? Thompson Drag Raceway is the perfect “Health Spa” for your car. June 2nd, July 7th and September 22nd are the dates scheduled to give your car a workout.

If you like parades there was the Solon Strawberry Festival parade on June 9th, then our 10th Bedford to Bedford Hts 4th of July parade not to mention providing escort cars for the 6K and 10K races in Bedford Hts.. The Club had been escorting these races for a number of years and continued doing so until we moved from Bedford Hts to Solon.

If you like to show off your car, we had a few places for you. Club members participated in the Bedford Hts Home Days on June 28th, the Garfield Hts Home Days on July 6th, TRW open house, the Stow Falls Center grand opening and the Klima Gardens Clambake.

Do you like Rock and Roll music with your display? We had 15 cars on display at the 1996 WMJI Moondog Coronation Ball. Members that displayed their cars at this event got to watch the Casino’s, Chiffons, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, The Capris, Gary “US” Bonds, The Cadillacs, LaVerne Baker, Bo Diddley and Little Richard perform. I don’t have enough space here to describe Little Richards behavior that night. I will just say it was like no other show from his younger days. I should add that we all had some very good seats.

The City of Bedford held another Street Festival on July 20th with our Club participating. The Crawford held it’s second annual Wings and Wheels show at the Cuyahoga County Airport in August with more Club participation. The Club also participates when the City of Willoughby holds it’s annual cruise and we show up with 24 cars.

Gone is our annual car show. After nine years of hosting a car show we call it quits. Our Tuesday cruise is out drawing the best of our car shows and require a lot less effort. (This statement was true 10 years ago. The Tuesday night cruises have now become very complex) Still with us are the Club picnics. The 1996 picnic takes place on July 21st.

Do you remember the song “I Can’t Drive 55”? On June 28th, 1996 we can now go 65 MPH! Now I can finally take my car out of first gear.

On August 18th the Club participated in the MDA Benefit Softball Tournament. We co-sponsored the event with Chuck Rambaldo of Tommy Edwards Records. This took place at the Solon Community Park.

On September 21st the Club celebrates it’s 10th anniversary as part of our Fall social. We booked the party room at the Independence Brown Derby Roadhouse. To mark this milestone in Club history the members are issued a 10th anniversary Club patch for our Club jackets. A picture of Chuck Vella’s car as he wished it to be appears in the center of the patch. The Club name surrounds the picture and the years 1986 – 1996 appear at the bottom.

Our officially scheduled Tuesday night cruises end on September 24th and is followed by a Sunday, September 29th Super Cruise. Even after the season had ended the lot would still be full on Tuesday nights. On one particular Tuesday night in October one of our current DJ’s, Firehouse Rock (Bob Shimits) showed up with a 1941 fire truck and played music for free from the back of the truck to a large appreciative crowd.

The plans for Cruisin’ the Commons 1997 are underway. In 1997 the Club will be moving the Tuesday night cruise onto the new rear Solon Commons parking lot. The 500 new parking spaces and the controlled access to the lot are a dream come true.

In the past certificates of appreciation were given to members that helped out at Club events. In 1996 the Horsepower Incentive Program was developed. Members that worked at the cruise or other club events were awarded Horsepower Points. The Points would be redeemable towards Club dues or merchandise. The value of the Points are determined by the board each year. To the best of my knowledge the value has always been 50 cents per Point up to the year 2006. Keep in mind that the value can change at any time.

The year ends with the 10th annual Club Christmas party. Santa Claus was there for the children, presents for all and a good meal. Once again we collect canned goods for the Bedford Hts Food Cupboard. The Club also donated 17 turkeys and collected $190.00 to help a needy family.


Your fellow cruiser, Joe Artale, member since 1987.